An automated voting monitoring system from our proxy services provider enables us to ensure that votes have been cast according to our instructions. We regularly monitor that we are voting our shares.
Our voting policy consists of various specific principles, but note that we consider all situations on a case-by-case basis, and voting decisions may deviate from certain principles where dictated by the best interests of our investors. In this respect, it is important to note that we do not view voting as a standalone issue, but rather as being inherently linked to dialogue. It some cases, it may be that when taken in the context of our engagement with a company, we may choose to vote in favour on an item that we may otherwise have opposed. An example would be where we are encouraging the company to increase board independence levels, and are aware of serious efforts by the company to find suitable independent candidates, but where a suitable candidate has not been found in time for the current AGM: in such a situation, where our thoughts on board structure have already been made clear to the company, and serious efforts are underway, we may prefer not to cause unnecessary disruption by voting against current board candidates, but instead choose to abstain, or even to support, the current candidates – but on the clear understanding that this may change if the expected progress is not delivered in the near future.
The head of responsible investment reviews a sample of voting decisions to ensure compliance with the voting policy.